The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) has started looking for ways to boost the local production of seaweed, which is an alternative source of income for coastal communities and could help counter the effects of climate change.

In a recent roundtable discussion on seaweed potential for biodiversity-friendly enterprises held at the training center of the Biodiversity Management Bureau in Quezon City, Secretary Gina Lopez disclosed that the DENR has already started the process of identifying suitable sites for seaweed farming in the country, with the help of other government agencies and concerned stakeholders.

She said that some of the potential seaweed farming sites include Calatagan in Batangas, Tambuyong in Quezon, Badian in Cebu, and Caluya Island in Antique, which is near Semirara Island where the controversial coal mining site and power plant is located.

Lopez said the government will not only help in seaweed propagation, but also in marketing its by-products

"The seaweed revenues should affect more than one person while developing an area," Lopez said. "We can get the country out of poverty through this project."

The DENR chief noted the strong market potential of seaweed due to its fast-growing characteristics and high market price, making it an important economic activity to alleviate poverty in the rural areas.

Apart from its economic potential, seaweed is one of the natural and effective carbon sequesters that can be found in the coastal area, and some of its species can grow alongside mangroves.

As such, one of the proposals is to get the fund for the seaweed projects from the Expanded National Greening Program and the People’s Survival Fund.

Using seaweeds for human production and consumption also helps the marine ecosystem as it reduces the organisms that are infesting other lives in the sea.

Among those who attended the meeting were representatives from the Seaweed Industry Association of the Philippines, the University of the Philippines Marine Science Institute, seaweed farmers from Tambuyog, Quezon, Badian, Cebu, and Negros Oriental, Mabunao Agricultural Forest Livelihood Improvement Program, National Fisheries Research and Development Institute, Partnerships in Environmental Management for the Seas of East Asia, and the Department of Agriculture. ###